By Audita Bhattacharya
Former Australian cricket umpire Simon Taufel launched his maiden book Finding The Gaps at Trump Tower in Pune recently. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for readers to know how to get to the top of umpiring and stay there and develop soft skills and develop trust, courage and self-belief, to be able to work and exist in a team environment, to explore your potential, to be the best person you can be,” said Taufel.
Taufel, who was earlier a member of the ICC Elite umpire panel, won five consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards between 2004 and 2008, and was considered the best umpire in the world during his time.
“As a cricket umpire, you have to know these skills Monday to Friday and then take them into Saturday and Sunday. To be able to handle setbacks when they occur, to prepare like a professional and to use those tips and tools and things that I’ve just talked about from a cricket perspective and talk about leadership with people like Dhoni, Kohli and Mahela Jaywardhane, and share some experiences that I’ve had along the way, which will hopefully get people to understand, connect and develop themselves,” said Taufel.
“I started young and had been umpiring for 23 years at the time when I retired and one of the things that the book talks about is to do what you love and love what you do, make good choices about what you want to do, and when I got to the back end of my career, I realised that I wasn’t as passionate about it as I should be, and for me to do my best and to sacrifice a lot to do that, you need to have that passion and I developed a passion for performance coaching and training and mentoring. Doing what I am doing now, it’s not my work, it’s very enjoyable,” said Taufel.
“It’s all about having the courage to have that difficult conversation with them and take that leap of faith. Thirty years ago, I was in a very difficult situation as many young people here in India, I was pursuing a university degree that I didn’t enjoy and at the end of the first year, I had to have a difficult conversation with my mum and say this isn’t what I want to do. So I stopped doing my bachelors business degree and I picked up the newspaper the next day and went and found a job. That was hard but all the right decisions in life are normally the hard ones. You’ve got to have the courage and strength to do that. Doing the same thing or choosing not to make a decision is easy. Anyone can do that. Making hard decisions is something not many can do. Normally, when you make that hard decision, good things happen,” said Taufel.
Speaking about the title of his book, “It’s about finding your performance gap, finding that one thing that’s holding you back. If you looked at it and dealt with it and got really specific and focused, that could be the one thing that takes you to the next level. It’s about finding that one gap between where you are right now and using strong self-awareness and going to the next level,” he added.
Speaking about the 2019 World Cup, Taufel said, “It happens. Every ball is important, umpires make lots of decisions on every ball. Back foot, front foot, square hit, where it’s going, and then when the ball goes in the field, who picks it up, legally, illegally, where’s the ball being thrown from. We make hundreds of decisions on every single ball and this was just one example where the umpires didn’t get it right. I have been there, too, and we shouldn’t be focused on one particular delivery as that wasn’t what the World Cup Final was all about. We saw a great game of cricket between two sides and the umpires overall had a very good game and they deserved all the recognition and acknowledgement that they got and what a great game of cricket. And two ties on one day.”
Speaking about his experience being on a book tour, he said, “It’s been fantastic to talk to people about it and to try to have a conversation with readers and hopefully, they will enjoy it and get something out of it and use it in some way.”
When asked about why a lot of individuals from sports are penning down their experiences, he said, “For me, it’s about sharing. I am not worried that I’ll sell too many copies or not, from a profit perspective. In fact, I am going to donate quite a lot of the proceeds back to the Umpires Association. What I would like to do is to actually have that conversation with a lot of people about how they can unlock their potential and how I can share my experience with them and really when you have a book, you have a conversation with the author and I love putting it in that form.”
Speaking about the future of cricket and umpiring, he said, “There are two things that we need to do with cricket. One is to protect it and second is to promote it. We need to grow the game and take it to more people so that future generations can enjoy it. Test cricket is such a wonderful form to test you mentally and physically, and I would like to see it in the future and also keep growing the game as much as you can. Sport to me has taught me more about life than I’ve taught myself — love yourself and like yourself. Umpiring is not about me, it’s about others going first, it’s about leading from behind. Form is temporary, class is permanent,” he said.